SRX400 – Less is More!

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    There are many strange things about  motorcycling: for instance I had owned a Triumph 900 Sprint from new for six years.  A fabulous beast of a bike with a lusty and tuneful triple engine at the heart of it’s appeal, but something was missing. Can’t really put my finger on it, but the link between the big Triumph and me simply had not been forged. The result of this was less than 3,000 miles covered in those years and when somebody came along and offered me a reasonable price for her I took it. Now what is worse than having a bike that you haven’t “clicked” with? That’s right, having no bike at all!


    An old mate pointed out an add in UBG for an SRX, it was a local number so what the hell? Before I knew it a 1986 SRX400 grey import was sitting where once my mighty Triumph had resided. So a 16 year old (and somewhat frayed around the edges), single was to be summer machine. The bloke selling it had wanted over £800 but after a bit of haggling we settled on a price somewhere well south of that! So my superbike was gone, but there was a smile on my face, Like I said, biking can be a strange thing.

    The SRX is a light and nimble almost café racer style of road bike, with more than a whiff of “spot the RD common cycle parts” about it. Its heart is a lovely single developed from the XT500 lineage, which is superb around town, and also the twisty lanes.   

    A closer examination of my new steed revealed an essentially sound bike with a few little extras like twin disc front brakes fed fluid via stainless hoses. Only a single disc was standard so an upgrade had clearly gone on its murky past at sometime. The speedo didn’t work either, and the exhaust note was not exactly legal on account of rather more holes that intended in the collector box. Sounded good though!
    The previous owner had made a few attempts at giving the single a little extra style with interesting results to put it kindly. So over the next few weeks various bits of the Yamaha got stripped off the bike then cleaned and painted before getting stuck back on. I really enjoyed seeing the bike improve and even the boss (Hi Bev!) got involved with some of the spraying and polishing. I fixed the speedo drive, the lads in the fabrication shop at work worked their magic on the exhaust in their lunch break, and I even lashed out on  a rather racey new mirror too (I hate riding without mirrors). After all this TLC the SRX was looking pretty smart even if I do say so myself.
    However on to the important stuff, what is it like to ride? Basically great fun and I am not alone in thinking this. One evening a series of my so called friends tried out the poor thing, all came back smiling. Surely that is what any motorbike, irrespective or size or type, should be all about isn’t it? Over the summer of 2002 I had a brilliant time “giving it large” at every opportunity. The aircooled, 30 bhp single was a willing partner albeit somewhat strangled at the top of the rev range. I expect the UK spec 600 version would be significantly better in this respect. Sometimes I rode on my own locally, just appreciating being out there, but many longer thrashes in company with much faster machinery were also tackled. For instance I went to Matlock Bath one Sunday morning with a couple of friends, one on a Thundercat and the other aboard a Ducati 748 of all things! Well the SRX was ridden to the max and put up an honourable show as I exploited the nimble handling on the tight stuff. Flat out I could just squeeze out a tree figure top speed according to the lad on Duke, but can you trust an Italian speedo reading!?

    We all swapped bikes about on this run too and when the Thundercat rider was on my machine we came across the surreal sight of a Harley owners club run.  They were decked out in the full regalia, Chips outfits, American flags fluttering in the breeze, the full nine yards. The whole thing  looked like a break out from a Village People Video shoot! All on the outskirts of Lichfield, weird. They were riding in convoy and people were lining the side of the road to wave at them. All jolly good for the image of biking and no mistake. So does my mate allow this procession to go on unmolested? On no, he hacks past on the SRX with the (as yet un-welded) exhaust blaring out, and dived past the lot into an island at a crazy speed! If he wasn’t too busy keeping the bike on the road I am sure he wound of given them a suitable digital salute too! Laugh, I nearly fell off his bike!

    The hard pressed Yamaha also endured several thrashes around Shropshire and up into Wales, again trailing people on much faster bikes. To its’ credit the brave machine took this treatment in its’ stride and you can’t knock it for that. The good ground clearance and light weight allowed me to push hard in tight and twisty stuff. The straight bits were a different matter altogether though, so in the end my Thundercat owning friend had mercy on me and bought an ancient Honda CB250RS that he could ride to keep me company. We had an absolute ball on the two old singles hammering around the north Midlands and generally being way too committed. It was like being 18 again, but without the acne this time!

    As for all the practical stuff like mpg, chain and tyre wear I’ve had no problems, but this wasn’t what the bike was bought for. Call it 60+ mpg and the tyre wear has been slight in the 2,000 miles or so I have put on the Yam. With 30 bhp on tap it was never going to shred tyres like a Busa was it?  But as a practical commutor, and some thrashing fun of a weekend, its very rewarding.

    The SRX has given in a lorry load of pleasure in one summer. Crucially it has made me question why so many of us bother with superbikes, and all of the hype that surrounds them. If biking is about fun, which I think it is, then the SRX400 delivers…

    So, summing up,you don’t have to be single to have fun, but it helps!

    Fledgling website;

    GSF K1

    Superb!!! Thats all I need to say!

    Go out with a BANG… Light a fart!


    Lightweight and for winter only

    Fairings are for puffs


    Cracking bikes, still ponder buying one every now and again


    Worthy of a bump methinks…


    aye, low powered bikes are lots of giggles, I really enjoyed the XS400 flat tracker and my current V7 Guzzi offers way more smiles per mile than the 1098 Ducati I traded in for it!


    I remember this bike very fondly, great fun to ride…you really have to maintain corner speed but the thing was so flickable!


    Brief review of the 600cc big brother

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